Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Tuesday. July. 6th. VIII. CFA Tuesday. July. 6th. VIII. CFA
Tuesday. July. 6th. VIII.

Arose considerably but not entirely refreshed from the dreadful fatigue of yesterday. I have seldom felt more overcome than I did on that day. My feelings having been acted upon in a variety of ways, affected my body almost as much as the exercise which was not inconsiderable. After having taken breakfast I sat in the parlour a little while but found nothing amusing. The girls never become in the least pleasant until the afternoon, and as to the old lady, she never is, to me at least. So that on the whole I thought it advisable to retire, and have no more to say to them. I sat with George half an hour but we could gain nothing from this as I presume he was afraid to talk of his prevailing idea as he knows my character, and I did not feel inclined to hurt his feelings, besides keeping my determination. There was a sort of half stiffness on both sides which we could not get over and which I at last did not attempt. Our conversation was principally concerning the dinner and toasts of yesterday.

As the day threatened rain, I found nothing to keep me here and consequently set off for home and old Cambridge again. I carried George two miles as far as Neponset Hotel as he wished to take a ride and stopped with him a little while at this house. I am glad that I 225came out as my absence would have excited observation. I did not think men were so critical. The absence of all the Quincy family was particularly noticed and George appears to think that he is jealous, I mean the young man,1 for I have always believed my father’s superiority over the old man has been a source of bitterness always to them. They are not a family of talent and have resorted to a mean attempt to raise themselves on the misfortunes of one of our family.2 When my father is not here, he3 is a great man and by his manner excites one to wish him kicked downstairs. I despise a little great man, and I do think Mr. Judge Mayor Quincy has as much right to that title as any man I have ever seen. None of his4 class were there either. George at College did not take the course to make true friends, he did not calculate upon the men but consulted his feelings and taste. Not that I praise his taste, but let every man have his way in this. I hope I have made a better solution, certainly a more respectable one here.

But all these reflections have nothing to do with the principal matter. I thought over this quickly as he was talking of it, and speaking of Quincy, whom he appears to take in the light of a rival. I was in a hurry and therefore left him without much preface. I rode home without stopping and got to Cambridge at about twelve having missed two recitations. The town felt all new to me as if I had been absent for some time and my acquaintance all shook my hand so that really, I began to think a week had passed since I had seen them. From the excitement of yesterday I felt dull also today. Every thing appeared so settled and quiet when I had seen so much bustle that I was unable to do anything. I read my Bible which was somewhat behind hand and wrote one day of my Journal. I also attended a lesson to Mr. Farrar in Trigonometry. He has got quite tired of hearing us in private class and wishes us to catch up again with the class so as to recite with them, a measure which I do not much care about taking.

I spent the afternoon in a listless uncomfortable sort of a way without much purpose. It is the most uncomfortable feeling under Heaven to suffer under. No letters too from home which always makes me feel lonely. After tea, I squadded my section upon the Common for the first time. They did exceedingly well and I received much credit for my trouble. The fact is that the other Officers have been in the habit of keeping their sections on the run all the time, they have given them variety but no principles and consequently they go too fast through all their manoeuvres. I afterwards stopped and talked with Silsbee &c. in front of Hollis5 concerning this company, received some advice from him as to the management of it and then came 226home. I then sat to, to read over both the lessons for tomorrow morning as I am now determined to be regular at recitations for the next weeks. They were easy so I was not occupied very long. I then read my Chapters as usual. Regularity gives me great satisfaction but notwithstanding I have very little of it. One week more frees me from my promise and I have to commence a branch of study which as it directly affects my future means of life, it is my duty, my interest, every thing which can call upon a man in life, to study it. My resolution may be broken but I hope not. I can do no more. If I am weak it is only my misery to be conscious of it. I ought to be more independent. X:20.


Josiah Quincy (1802–1882).


Presumably TBA.


Josiah Quincy (1772–1864), “the old man” alluded to above.




Hollis Hall.

Wednesday. July 7th. VI. CFA Wednesday. July 7th. VI. CFA
Wednesday. July 7th. VI.

Attended Prayers and recitations this morning very fortunately, and was called upon in a long proposition, the commencement of which I was prepared to recite. Had he continued one word farther than what I actually recited, I think it would have been not so well. No exercises after the Morning as the Seniors were examined today. I squadded my section in the hall this morning on the right oblique step. I then went and took a warm bath which gave me a feeling of fatigue all day. The rest of the morning was employed in writing my Journal and doing a little at the bookstore.

I made an engagement to take a ride this afternoon with Otis, but while at dinner we were surprised by the cry of fire and a tremendous pillar of smoke arose in the direction of Boston. It was in appearance at the bottom of Beacon street as seen from the tops of the Colleges. Otis consequently hurried into town to see if his father’s was in danger and left me to enjoy the afternoon alone. I therefore took up Mitford again and read his view of the Western Countries politically connected with Greece and of the Grecian settlements in Sicily and Italy. The history was rather uninteresting and merely embraced a short account of the Grecian settlements. A small definition of History I met with which struck me and I shall insert it in my Common Place Book.

I then went to the book store where I met Cunningham who had been into Boston and who told me that the fire had caught in Charles Street, had extended up Beacon Street and had burnt sixteen houses besides stables, barns, shops &c. in great numbers. In short there has 227not been such a fire for a great while, it has taken off some very pretty houses. A great effort checked it at a Mr. Eckley’s1 at the bottom of the street. Otis returned before Prayers. It appears that all the people in the street were in a fright and were fixing their houses in preparation, had moved all their furniture, in short that the mall presented a very queer sight—of furniture, books and every thing else lying without distinction all over the common.2 I was troubled with the ringing here and in fact managed somehow or other to spend an extremely unpleasant day, deriving no satisfaction or pleasure from my own reading or any thing. Indeed I begin to believe that unless soon recovered I shall lose my taste for reading which to me would be the most serious loss in the world.

After Prayers, I read my lesson over and then went upstairs to attend a Meeting of the Lyceum Club which was held tonight for the first time this term at Wheatland’s room. The Members did not arrive until very late, nine o’clock for example. And Otis was tired, Chapman’s eyes by working at this fire were almost out of his head. I know no place where Otis shows himself more unpleasantly than at parties of this sort, he has no sort of knowledge how to please them, he does not become warm but on the contrary, either goes to sleep or complains of something the matter with him. He has not those feelings which make him an agreable companion because he has not any energy in his composition. How few there are in this world who can be called perfectly agreable. How few there are in whom the ingredients are mixed in perfect proportion. If Otis has too little energy, Dwight has too much of it. If the one is easily moved, the other is the most difficult. Positive even when incorrect and the more so when the most are against him. It is one of the faults, I have to find in him. Another is his whimwham, to use the expression of the Author of Salmagundi, his frequent expressions of like and dislike which are unpleasant and according to the strict rule of good breeding, improper.

The society met, Lothrop absent who will not probably join the club this term. Cunningham was proposed and admitted, a little other business was settled and we employed ourselves much in our usual way. We played cards for a little while and gave them up to take a few strawberries after which we resumed our amusement not with much life however, as Chapman was really in pain and Otis “as stupid as a beast.” We therefore threw this up and began with a little singing not however in a very loud strain. Tudor was somewhat exhilarated, from the effect of the end of College life and the variety 228of liquors which he took. I staid here till late and humoured Tudor as much as possible. Richardson is unpleasant at a treat of this kind because he becomes talkative, noisy, and impertinent. Sheafe was sulky. The Meeting however was pleasant as I was in one of my quiet fits3 and amused myself with the nonsense of others. My complaisance cost me a sick fit this evening, thanking Heaven that this is the last. I.


David Eckley lived at 8 Beacon Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–30).


The conflagration began in a carpenter shop on the corner of Chesnut and Charles streets and spread to Beacon Street. Fifteen houses were burned in the two-hour blaze, including the Beacon Street mansions of Tasker H. Swett, Henry G. Rice, William Minot, Timothy H. Carter, Samuel Austin, and Stephen Bean. The Harrison Gray Otis mansion was unharmed (Boston Daily Advertiser, 8 July 1824; Boston Directory, 1825).


MS: “fist.”